Satlok Ashram head Rampal’s followers, who opened fire at the police and paramilitary forces on Tuesday in Barwala to thwart attempts of arresting their leader, are not new to gun-wielding.
Police officials said a large number of his disciples were middle and lower-rung retired army and policemen who were instrumental in imparting weapon and tactical training to Rampal’s band of loyalists — It would not be wrong to call them self-styled commanders of a private militia.
Christened commandos, Rampal’s militia trained in handling weapons like .315 bore rifles, double barrel guns, revolvers, pistols and incendiary devices like petrol bombs, acid guns and pouches.
Call it Rampal’s penchant or his necessity to raise a private militia, the shape of things to come was evident as early as 2006 when a bloody clash took place amid firing of gunshots at his ashram in Rohtak’s Karontha.
In a complaint filed by the ashram head in September 2006 before a Rohtak judicial magistrate, Rampal admitted that he had ordered his disciples to open fire during the July 2006 Karontha clash when the ashram was surrounded by Arya Samaj followers and villagers.
In the ensuring firing, one person was killed and 57 others were injured. The case is being tried in a Rohtak court.
Rampal’s complaint is now a part of the judicial record in the contempt of court matter before the Punjab and Haryana high court. “The complainant (Rampal) was duty bound as well as legally competent to defend and protect the life of inmates of the ashram, including his own life. When all his earnest requests to police to intervene and to disperse the unlawful assembly failed to move the police, no option was left but to ask some of the ashram inmates to take up arms and to fire in the air to scare away the assaulters (Arya Samajis),” read the complaint filed before a judicial magistrate (Ist class) seeking directions for registering FIR against Arya Samaj followers.
The complaint was filed against Arya Pratinidhi Sabha president, Haryana Acharya Baldev and over 100 other members.
“They were strictly told not to kill anybody but to hit at the non-vital parts,” the complaint read.
It also said that as the ashram inmates were in possession of only a few licensed weapons, they fired discreetly and intermittently with the intent to scare away the Arya Samaj followers.
Men on the ground
53 companies of Haryana police and para military forces comprising 6000 personnel deployed.
135 Haryana roadways buses deployed to transport evacuees to a safer place.
20 Ambulances pressed into service to take injured to government hospitals.
22 police gypsies, 11 fire tenders, tear gas squads and water canon vehicles pressed into service.
The police force was led by 8 IPS officers, 15 DSPs and 20 inspectors assisted by 36 duty magistrates.
A Special Weapon And Tactic team comprising 11 commandos deployed.
Cases against Ashram, Rampal
June 19, 2006: Case registered at Bahadurgarh Sadar police station after self-styled godman Rampal and his followers allegedly vandalised the premises of Chudani Dham Mandir in Jhajjar and injured several persons. FIR registered for rioting and other charges under sections 148, 149, 323, 452, 342, 506 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Status: Pending in court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Bahadurgarh (Jhajjar)
July 8, 2006: Case registered at Rohtak Sadar police station against supporters of Rampal for obstructing the Rohtak-Panipat national highway and allegedly attempting to kill cops on duty. FIR registered under sections 148, 149, 332, 353, 186, 427 and 307 of the IPC.
Status: Pending in court of judicial magistrate (first class), Rohtak
July 12, 2006: Case registered at Rohtak Sadar police station following a clash at Satlok Ashram, Karontha, between members of mahapanchayat and disciples of Rampal. Jhajjar resident Sonu was killed and several persons were injured after shots were allegedly fired and stones hurled from the ashram rooftop. Firearms, including rifles, were recovered from Rampal and his followers. FIR registered under sections 148, 149, 302 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of Arms Act.
Status: Pending in the court of sessions judge, Rohtak
July 21, 2006: Case registered against Rampal and his accomplices at Rohtak Civil Lines police station for allegedly getting a gift deed executed fraudulently by facilitating impersonation. FIR registered under sections 419, 420, 423, 465, 467, 468, 471, 447, 506 and 120-B of the IPC.
Status: Pending before chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Rohtak
August 24, 2009: Case registered against Rampal followers at Rohtak Civil Lines police station for allegedly attacking followers of Arya Samaj with sharp-edged weapons. FIR registered under sections 148, 149, 323, 506 of the IPC.
Status: Pending in court of judicial magistrate (First Class), Rohtak
January 6, 2010: Case registered against ashram followers at Rohtak Civil Lines police station for allegedly violating Section 144 of the CrPC as they assembled in the court premises when Rampal was being produced in the court and raised slogans.
Status: Pending before judicial magistrate (First Class), Rohtak
May 13, 2013: Case registered at Rohtak Sadar police station under sections 302 (murder) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC against Rampal and his followers after a woman was killed by a stray bullet which was allegedly fired from Satlok Ashram premises in Karontha.
Status: Under investigation by Crime Branch
August 8, 2014: Case registered against ashram followers for unlawful assembly and carrying banners having defamatory words against the courts. FIR registered on the complaint of the president, district bar association, Rohtak, under sections 147, 149, 341 and 500 of the IPC.
Status: Under investigation